Case Study

East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, New York City, USA

EAST SIDE COASTAL RESILIENCY PROJECT

Case Study Summary The East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project is a coastal protection initiative, jointly funded by the City of New York and the federal government, aimed at reducing flood risk due to coastal storms and sea level rise on Manhattan’s East Side from East 25th Street to Montgomery Street.
Sector
           WATER
Key Topics •      Community engagement
•      Coastal Resilience
Project Owner New York City
Project Start/Completion 2021 – Ongoing
Location New York City
Community Impacted Urban, Coastal
Climate Hazards Mitigated Flooding
Case Study Provided by

The East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project is a coastal protection initiative, jointly funded by the City of New York and the federal government, aimed at reducing flood risk due to coastal storms and sea level rise on Manhattan’s East Side from East 25th Street to Montgomery Street.

About the Project

 The City of New York has worked hand-in-hand with community partners and residents to identify the best ways to meet the many challenges caused by the climate crisis, including sea level rise and more frequent, intense storms. Community engagement has been a priority for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. Through numerous public design workshops, the community reviewed and discussed various approaches using three-dimensional models and drawings of different design options. To better understand community needs, the project design team also analysed earlier plans and projects in the area.

The project area, spanning from Montgomery Street to East 25th Street, is located within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 100-year floodplain and includes a large and diverse residential community of more than 110,000 New Yorkers.

ESCR will create a 2.4 mile flood protection system consisting of floodwalls and floodgates that will

be blended into the fabric of the community by integrating with local streets, the elevated East River Park and the new landscape surrounding Corlears Hook Park, Murphy Brothers Playground, Stuyvesant Cove Park, and Asser Levy Playground. The project will also involve significant investments in underground interior drainage improvements that will improve the capacity of the sewer system.

This project is the result of years of planning and collaboration among city, state, federal agencies, elected officials, and the local community, which has been enabled by a $338 million federal grant to fund design and construction, with the remainder of the project’s $1.45 billion total cost funded by the City of New York.

The ESCR Project is the first step in the City’s plan for a larger coastal protection system in Lower Manhattan. While the project is being designed as a stand-alone ‘compartment’ to reduce flood risk between East 25th Street and Montgomery Street, it will tie-in with complementary initiatives in Lower Manhattan, including the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency,

Resilient Neighborhoods Study, Con Edison Resiliency, Hospital Row Investments, and NYCHA Resiliency.

Outcomes

 In 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck New York City, killing 44 New Yorkers, devastating entire neighbourhoods, and causing approximately $19 billion in damage citywide. The Lower East Side was one of the most impacted communities during the hurricane. In the aftermath of the storm, New York City launched a process to assess climate change vulnerabilities and began advancing an ambitious portfolio of long-term coastal protection projects that will prevent flooding while increasing the vibrancy and accessibility of public waterfront spaces. When completed, the ESCR Project will result in a climate robust and attractive corridor that protects the community from future storm surges.

ESCR is a one-of-a-kind, forward-thinking resiliency project being constructed in a dense urban environment with complex below and above-ground infrastructure. This project is intended to build physical, social, and economic resiliency, strengthening the city’s coastline while improving waterfront open space and accessibility.

The project design integrates flood protection into the community fabric, improving waterfront open spaces and access, rather than walling off the neighbourhood. ESCR will also offer protection to critical infrastructure—including a major pump station and an electrical substation that powers much of Lower Manhattan—as well as numerous local schools and libraries.

Desired outcomes include:

  • Flood Risk Reduction from future storm surge and sea level rise;
  • Improved Access with expanded connections between local communities and the waterfront, and designing to meet universal access standards;
  • Enhanced Public Spaces with resilient design, updated recreation facilities, increased multi-use spaces, new furnishings, and ecologically diverse

Number of vulnerable people made more resilient by this project

110,000

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